Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Labour Day

There's less than two days until the Labour Day weekend, and I'd be lying if I told you that I wasn't damned happy for it to get here. Andrea and I are head out to the cottage on Friday afternoon, and we're not coming back to Ottawa until Wednesday.

We'll be joined by a few friends for part of the weekend, but the lion's share of our time away will be with just the two of us. After starting to feel as though I'm suffering from information overload over the past little while, I'm excited about losing the internet connection in favour of a good book. It's been a long time.

Really, I've no one to blame but myself. I spend my day behind a desk, then fire up the internet and cable news once I get home, when I could be hitting the gym, going for a run, doing some sketching, or even working on my writing. All things that involve some form of creativity, without having lots of flashy images, words and sound piping through my senses.

Two nasty habits that I've developed over the years are my propensity for procrastination and the ease at which I can be distracted. For instance, while I was writing this blog post (which, in itself, is procrastination from doing laundry, filling out my passport application, having posters mounted, updating my iPod, etc.), I decided that I wanted to see how much my ideal summer car (read: 1967 Shelby Cobra 427) would cost. This lead me to browsing used Ferraris and Lamborghinis, which in turn took me to eBay.

A few minutes later, and I ended up looking at the U.S. Treasury Department webpage for seized goods auctions (because, of course, there are many Ferraris and Lamborghinis being auctioned - crime, apparently, does pay up until the point you get busted, and your assets get auctioned off).

I've included the link for you here.

I'm not sure which is more amusing - seeing all the stuff they have for sale, or trying to imagine the circumstances under which it made its way into government hands. Either way, fascinating. Thus far, I think my favorite is the 7,200 bottles of Pirat vodka in a warehouse in New Jersey. And the animated gavel on the main page? Mesmerizing.

Back to the topic at hand.

It's going to be good to get away for a few days, and perhaps take some time to map out what it is that needs to be done in September if I'm not going to slip further and further behind as far as errands are concerned. I want to figure out how to pursue my long-term career aspirations, spend time with Andrea and my friends, learn a second language, keep things neat and tidy... etc., etc. Always so much to do, and so little time.

So, for all the procrastinators out there: did you ever find a way out of it? Or will you be getting to that soon?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Reconciling my SUV Guilt

For a while now, I've realized that it's probably a bad thing that I drive an SUV. I recognized that driving an SUV makes a pretty substantial ecological footprint, and that the world would be a better place if I opted for, say, a Toyota Echo or an electric golf cart instead.

On the other hand, given the number of people I know that have been in some pretty serious car accidents, I feel much better with a vehicle (Mercules, see the legend) that has some pretty extensive safety features. And no, rolling up on top of working-class motorists isn't one of them. That, and my family cottage (as well as my uncle's place, and my grandmother's place) is pretty much in the middle of nowhere, meaning some fairly substantial snow tires / traction control are requried to make the trip in the middle of winter.

I've tried it in a rear-wheel drive before. It wasn't pretty.

So, I thought that I was stuck with SUV guilt, as a result. Doomed to wander this planet, forced to shut my mouth whenever environmental issues became the subject of conversation.

Enter TerraPass.

Initially launched as a professor's project at the University of Pennsylvania, the idea is that an ecologically-minded driver can punch in their vehicle and driving habits, and receive a rough estimate of what it would cost to fund a project to counteract the environmental impact. So, in my case, I need a utility pass that costs roughly US$80 which covers roughly double the impact of my present driving habits. For Andrea's Civic, it'd be roughly half the cost.

I bought a membership that renews itself annually.

I'm not sure which I'm going to enjoy more - feel justified in taking part in environmental discussions, or seeing what people say when they see the TerraPass sticker in the back of my SUV.

Now if there's only some way they could factor in the geo-political cost of consuming non-renewable resources... Hmmm.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

A Few Things That Make Me Angry

Why is there no longer any place that I can go that's free of advertisements? I pay ten dollars to go see a movie, and there's five - ten minutes worth of ads before the film starts. I pay five bucks cover to get into a bar, and there's ads hanging over the urinals. What's next? Is the dentist going to rent out space on his ceiling? Will McDonald's launch a banner into orbit? Are hospitals going to tattoo ads on the backs of babys' eyelids? At this point, nothing would surprise me.

Why aren't there any positive young female role models these days? What happened to the likes of Princess Diana and Jackie O? Instead, we've got Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton. Don't get me wrong, Paris Hilton's a pretty savvy entrepreneur. But, considering that her idea of community service is parking her Mercedes SLR McLaren in a handicapped spot, I don't think she's going to win the Nobel Peace Prize anytime soon. I'm not sure exactly what's required to solve this problem, but if body mass is any indication then the smart money is on a strong gust of wind.

Why on earth would someone go to a job day-in, day-out if they hated what they were doing? I know these people are out there - they commute over an hour to get to a job that they loathe, all so they can afford a quality of life that isn't actually satisfying or rewarding, on any other than a financial level. I'm not sure what would be worse - being at a job you hate, or being stuck with all the other job-loathing, commute-sufferers who are equally numb. Seriously. Stop spending all your money on pay-per-view and home threatre equipment, save some cash, and open a dive shop in Fiji.

I think each driver should get a shoulder-launched anti-tank rocket when they get their license. You only get one, and that has to last you the rest of your life. Doesn't matter if you miss, either, because that's the only one you get. So you'd really have to pick your target carefully, knowing that that you only get one chance. Still, should each driver be so equipped, I bet that puke-orange rust-flaking pick-up truck with naked woman mud flaps and a "Got Guns?" bumper sticker might think twice before they huck a lukewarm can of Pabst Blue Ribbon at an endangered animal before conducting six simultaneous lane-changes. I'm just saying, is all.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

A Very Special Message from Samuel L. Jackson

... can be found here.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Poking my Head Up

It's been a while since I'd written, and I realized that if this blog was meant to do more than just languish and die, it was time to do some writing. Alas, the kind of writing I need to do probably won't fit into the eight minutes I've alotted before I go to bed, but I hope to make time for it sometime later in the week.

I've also toyed with the idea of starting up a second blog. Or third blog. Or fourth blog. This all depends whether you count my travel writing as a blog, or if we should consider A Helpful Suggestion to still hold a place in the line. Regardless, it's still an idea that I think about from time to time, and there a few would-be topics to fill the void.

I'm not sure if I mentioned earlier that Andrea introduced me to Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series, but she did. It's a really good series. On one hand, it's full of dragons and wizards and magic, which is precisely what I feel like doing when I come home from work having spent my entire day reading and writing, well, the polar opposite of wizards and magic fiction. This means that I have some form of escapism that doesn't involve playing video games. There's more than ten books in the series thus far, which means this diversion will last a while yet.

Beyond that, the themes that are addressed through the series are intelligent and thought-provoking. I don't know what encouraged Mr. Goodkind to use wizards and dragons as a filter through which to examine ethics and sociology, but he does a pretty good job. Of particular note are the "Wizard's Rules", which are rules that, to my way of thinking at least, are applicable for non-wizarding folk as well.

And... eight minutes are up. Time does fly. But seriously, people-who-read-this-blog-regularly, I miss hanging out with you all. We need to do it again, soon.

Question for you all: Do you have a book (or series of books) that addresses a serious issue in an indirect way, that makes in particularly enjoyable to read? If so, drop a line...